10 Real Estate Terms Everyone Should Know

Having a basic understanding of important real estate concepts before you start the homebuying process will give you peace of mind now and could save you a fortune in the future. Here are ten real estate terms you should know before you start looking for a home. If you still have questions or are ready to start touring homes, a Redfin real estate agent would be happy to help.

  1. Buyer’s Agent vs. Listing Agent

    There are usually two agents involved when you buy a home; the “buyer’s agent,” who represents you, and the “listing agent,” who represents the home seller. Dual agency is when there is only one agent representing both sides of the transaction, and it is something you want to avoid at all costs!

    Money saving tip: When buying a home, you don’t pay your real estate agent – they’ll get a commision from the home seller. Choose a broker like Redfin who will give you part of their commission back!

  2. Fixed Rate vs. Adjustable Rate Mortgages

    Conventional loans include “fixed rate” and “adjustable rate” mortgages. A fixed rate mortgage has a predetermined interest rate throughout the life of the loan; the most common are for 30 years. An adjustable rate mortgage has a variable interest rate; the most common are for 5, 7, or 10 years.

    Money saving tip: Adjustable rate mortgages can make financial sense if you’re planning to sell or refinance your home before the introductory period ends; but if you’re planning to own your home longer than five years, it’s less risky to choose a fixed rate loan. Make sure to shop around so you can get the best mortgage possible, which will save you a lot of money in the long run. Ask your friends, family, and real estate agent for lender recommendations. One great online resource for recommendations is Redfin Open Book, which posts reviews of lenders from people who recently bought a home.

  3. Pre-approval Letter

    Before you apply for a mortgage or even start looking for a home, you should get a pre-approval letter from the bank, which is an estimate of how much they’ll lend you. This letter will help you determine what you can afford, and ensures home sellers that you will be able to get a loan when needed.

    Money saving tip: When you go in for a pre-approval letter you should be clear on what the bank is offering. Ask them about closing costs, what fees are involved, what you’re getting for that fee, and if they’ll lock in your loan at a specific interest rate. Note that if you end up competing for a home against other offers, it can help to have a local lender. Local lenders want continued referrals and really care about their reputation; listing agents prefer to deal with them for this reason.

This article was created by Redfin

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